Most fluent speakers of the Lingít language are elders. But the instructors of an immersion classroom in Juneau have high hopes: to raise a new generation of Lingít speakers.
Elders are teaching the Tlingit language to young children in places called “language nests.” They’re finding that a home-like environment is more effective than a typical classroom setting.
The animated children’s series will debut next summer. It’s the first nationally distributed children’s series to feature an Alaska Native character in a leading role.
A report by the Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council said the state should make it policy to promote Alaska Native language schools wherever possible.
Regular students will study alongside community members taking advantage of the non-credit option.
Hawaii and Southeast Alaska have something in common when it comes to indigenous languages.
For the first time, a Tlingit name for a peak in Juneau will be included in the Geographic Names Information System or GNIS. This makes it possible for that name to be printed on federal maps and publications. Getting the indigenous name for a Juneau peak officially recognized actually began as an attempt to give the point a Western moniker.
“Some of our people got scared of the daylight, ran into the forest. Some of our people hid behind the trees.”
“That’s how we’re going to make sure we can continue and nurture this language,” says Nancy Keen.
A longtime state lawmaker resigned, Alaska Native languages were recognized as official state languages, and a price war for airline tickets.